The present study was designed to investigate the effects of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (atorvastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin) on the pharmacokinetics of losartan and its active metabolite EXP-3174 in rats. Pharmacokinetic parameters of losartan and EXP-3174 in rats were determined after oral and intravenous administration of losartan (9 mg/kg) without and with HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (1 mg/kg). The effect of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors on P-gp and cytochrome (CYP) 3A4 activity were also evaluated. Atorvastatin, pravastatin and simvastatin inhibited CYP3A4 activities with IC50 values of 48.0, 14.1 and 3.10 µmol/l, respectively. Simvastatin (1–10 µmol/l) enhanced the cellular uptake of rhodamine-123 in a concentration-dependent manner. The area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC0–∞) and the peak plasma concentration of losartan were significantly (p < 0.05) increased by 59.6 and 45.8%, respectively, by simvastatin compared to those of control. The total body clearance (CL/F) of losartan after oral administration with simvastatin was significantly decreased (by 34.8%) compared to that of controls. Consequently, the absolute bioavailability (F) of losartan after oral administration with simvastatin was significantly increased by 59.4% compared to that of control. The metabolite-parent AUC ratio was significantly decreased by 25.7%, suggesting that metabolism of losartan was inhibited by simvastatin. In conclusion, the enhanced bioavailability of losartan might be mainly due to inhibition of P-gp in the small intestine and CYP3A subfamily-mediated metabolism of losartan in the small intestine and/or liver and to reduction of the CL/F of losartan by simvastatin.

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